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Preparing to Race Alone

The inaugural, and hopefully only, TriRiot 70.5 Triathlon will be held this Saturday, May 23, 2020.

Since December 2019, I’ve been planning my training to culminate in peak fitness and form right about now. With the cancellation of races, I’ve decided to hold my own triathlon. Here’s the plan:

Pre Race Fueling

Tonight (Thursday) will be the first intentional race fueling. A slightly larger than normal dinner consisting of easy to digest carbs and protein will be on the menu. It might include sweet potatoes, chicken breast and a protein shake.

Because my body is pretty well carbohydrate adapted, Friday morning breakfast will be oatmeal, a protein source and (dare I say) pancakes. Pancakes haven’t crossed these lips in months. Maybe I’ll reconsider and just have pancake and not pancakes.

Race day morning 3:00AM EDT: oatmeal, peanut butter, honey.

Race day morning 4:30AM EDT: 100kcal Tailwind endurance drink.

The Swim

The swim begins at 6:00AM sharp. This means T1 needs to be setup by 5:40AM. Twenty minutes should be enough time to drive from T1 to swim start and unload the kayak. Lori is going to lead me in the water on a kayak.

If you’re not familiar with our area, the town that controls parking along the swim start (salt water channel) has restricted parking to only a few locations to enforce social distancing policies on the beach. Parking logistics may be a bit of a hassle but I think we can manage.

The swim will begin in Bank’s Channel near Hanover Seaside Club where a rising tide should hopefully make up for my lack of swim training over the past couple of months. Effort levels for the first 500 meters or so will be kept quite low, but once I pass the big water tower, I’ll actually try to swim.

Imagine the golden glow of a morning sunrise as it reflects off the surrounding buildings and the lightly rippling water. Beautiful. If clouds and rain don’t ruin it, this swim will be absolutely beautiful.

This swim course is longer than that of a standard half iron distance event. Normally, 1.2 miles is a standard distance, but this swim exit is about 1.4 miles from swim start. With a strong current, a wetsuit, and salt water buoyancy, this swim might last 35 minutes.

The Bike

The run to T1 isn’t too long: about 1/8 mile. If you’ve watched any of the TriRiot Speed Tips, you already know that doffing the wetsuit won’t be a problem. That comes off before getting out of the water.

The bike will be waiting for me and already outfitted with three nutrition bottles of 200kcal each. I’ve been training all season with Tailwind endurance drink so that’s the concoction for race day.

The first obstacle on the bike course is Wrightsville Beach traffic. Even at 6:45AM the traffic might be heavy. The key is to reduce the number of left turns and always be aware of vehicles and pedestrians. Even a parked vehicle can suddenly greet you with an open door.

The next obstacle on the course is the draw bridge that leads to the mainland. The slippery metal surface of that bridge has claimed many victims over the years, so Xena (the bike’s name) and I plan on walking across. Once Xena and I reach the mainland, we’ll have 5 miles of city traffic, then 4 miles of busy thoroughfare.

After that exercise in urban warfare, we’ll relax a bit and enjoy the country roads of New Hanover and Pender Counties. I use the word, relax, loosely here. After all, this is a race.

I’ve heard it said that these middle and long distance races are like long, catered training days. The TriRiot 70.5 Triathlon will not be catered. There will be no aid stations. There will be no sag wagons. There will be no tech support. This is a self supported race which I knew when I signed up so I have no right to complain about it. And because I’m the race director, I can DQ any athlete that does complain.

The bike course ends in my driveway after 56 miles of either fighting the wind or flying through the countryside. You can never tell which it will be around here.

The Run

Shaw Highway is a two lane county road in front of my property. It’s not dangerous, but it is exciting and it runs along the Western border of the Holly Shelter Game Land. I love this stretch of road, because at the right time of day you might not see another person for many minutes. That doesn’t sound like much, but I’ll take whatever peace and quiet I can get, even if for only 15 minutes. There’s also wildlife along that road. I’ve seen wild turkey, deer, possum, rabbit, snakes, fox, bear and alligator. 6.55 miles of that highway will be the TriRiot 70.5 Triathlon run course.

For run nutrition, I trained with Clif Bloks. But not just any Clif Bloks. Margarita flavored Clif Bloks. Margarita flavor makes all the difference in the world, because it is so damn tasty. In addition to the Clif Bloks, I’ll carry Base Salt for electrolyte supplement in case my head gets fuzzy or my muscles decide to cramp.

The aid station coordinator (that’s me) decided to offer water at three places along the run course. The day before the race, I’ll go out and drop off water bottles at miles 3.5 and 6.55. There may even be a cyclist leading the runner in first place. Lori has expressed interest so maybe I’ll have someone to talk with.

The Finish

By the time I get back to my driveway I’m sure I will be glad to see that cracked hunk of concrete.

Doing a race like this by myself is something that I’ve aspired to for a long time. I’ve always wanted to know if I could stay motivated through the training and successfully race against the clock without the excitement of a thousand competitors and all the fanfare. So far, I can.

The cool thing is that I am getting super excited about this race just like I would for a regular race.

My goal is to reach the driveway before 11:45AM. I’ll let you know if that happens.

Until then…

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